He may only be 30, at or only just past the peak of his abilities, and still arguably the best option for Harry Redknapp at centre-back, but make no mistake about it- Ledley King, by most popular accounts, has seen his best days come and go at Tottenham.
Having spent almost all of the past season under the cloud of groin and recurrent knee injuries and with Michael Dawson emerging as a competent and trusted understudy captain, questions have already started to emerge over just how long King’s gilted Spurs career will last, with some speculators already suggesting that he’s already on the way to retirement.
With this in mind, it seems logical now to question who over the next few seasons will come out of the woodwork as the new rock at back and Dawes’ partner. I here humbly present to you some candidates and the odds on their taking up the mantle.
Calum Butcher – 15/1
Intimidatingly strong and appealingly versatile, Butcher is already viewed as a loan target by a wealth of lower-tier clubs and will surely be looking to establish himself in the first team following his naming as a substitute in a number of key games for Spurs at home and abroad in recent years.
Bongani Khumalo – 20/1
Having spent his whole career to date at Supersport United in South Africa it’s quite difficult to assess the exact quality of Khumalo’s credentials. Despite this, his impressive outings for his country at last year’s World Cup, including a brilliant goal against France, and the maturity that his captaincy of his former side at such a young age speaks to certainly make him the dark horse of the group.
Sebastien Bassong – 30/1
Though at 25 there is still more than enough room for the former Newcastle and current Cameroonian national player to improve, it’s difficult to imagine Bassong making the progress that will be required to fill the formidably vacancy left by King. Though performances over the past two seasons have been generally solid, the memory of his role in the disastrous 4-0 defeat at Fulham in this year’s FA Cup Fourth Round should be more than enough to see him kept out of centre-back for the foreseeable. Also, with Gareth Bale now having firmly laid claim to a midfield place, he’s now a much more strong candidate for a left-back replacement.
Steven Caulker – 2/1
Even at the tender age of 19, Caulker is already ticking all the boxes that Harry will be coming to look at when searching for a replacement for King. His considerable stature and tenacity give him the appearance and skills of an obvious successor, while the rave reviews he’s managed to pick up in his time on loan at Bristol City and the fact that he’s a product of the club’s youth system will surely sit him in great stead with the fans as he progresses up to the first team.
Wild card signing – 2/5
This one, to me, is almost a no-brainer. With the wonderkids of the reserve and youth teams yet to fully prove themselves it’s almost certain that Harry will be dipping his toes into the water during the summer transfer window and trying to fish out a consistent and reliable central defender- Gary Cahill is one name already being circulated feverishly in gossip columns and fan circles.